GENERAL BREED INFO

Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds: How to Work around Cat Allergies

siberian-cat sitting outside in the snow
Martha Harvey
Written by Martha Harvey

You finally get to adopt the cat of your dreams and cannot wait to get the cuddles and affection you crave from your kitty. But even before kitty settles into your household, you suddenly feel ill. Then it dawns on you that you could be suffering from cat allergy. Is this the end of the road for you and your love of cats? No! Have you heard of hypoallergenic cat breeds? These amazing cat breeds could be the answer to your allergy problem.

While there are no cats that are totally allergen-free, there are cats that tend to aggravate people with allergies less. These cats produce less dander. Dander is the saliva and the skin cells that can cause an allergic reaction in some people. As long as you keep the interaction with these best hypoallergenic cats to a reasonable degree, you wouldn’t need to worry about suddenly sneezing uncontrollably or breaking out in rashes. These cats are a dream come true.

Close-up of a Russian blue cat

In this article, we explore the unique breeds that have restored hope to cat allergy sufferers. We also delve into proactive ways through which cat owners can minimize the allergens. So before you give up on cats altogether, read through our article and discover that every cloud has a silver lining.

What Causes Cat Allergy in Humans?

You adore cats, but it is never rosy when you are around them. You find yourself coughing, having a stuffy nose, itchy red eyes, sneezing, and breaking out in rashes. Sadly, that is your cue to come to the conclusion that you suffer from cat allergies. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, an average of 10% of people are allergic to household pets with cat allergies being twice as common as dog allergies.

Cat allergies are triggered by a protein known as Fel d 1 that is found in a cat’s saliva and skin. As cats groom themselves, this protein is deposited on their coat. The protein is very sticky and is easily deposited on surfaces that the felines rub themselves against.

A Maine Coon cat with a wonderful long coat

The Fel d 1 protein is also very minute and light. Therefore, it can remain airborne for many hours. It is consequently easily inhaled by humans. Some people’s immune system will react as if being attacked by this protein. This will trigger the coughing, wheezing, and rashes.

Fel d 1 has been linked to testosterone levels in cats. This is because male felines produce more of this protein than females. At the same time, neutered males produce less of the protein than unneutered males.

Image showing a little cat sitting in the sun

Interestingly, dark-colored cats produce less Fel d 1 protein than light-colored felines. Kittens also produce less of the allergen than adult cats. Still, even if you test your luck by adopting a cat that checks all of the aforementioned boxes for low Fel d 1 production (female, neutered, dark-colored, and a kitten), there’s no guarantee that you won’t react, because they more or less still produce the protein that you’re allergic to.

But it’s not all gloom for people suffering from cat allergies. Over time, most people build a tolerance to the allergy. Furthermore, there might just be a hypoallergenic cat breed that your allergy doesn’t react to.

13 Best Hypoallergenic Cats to Choose From

As stated earlier, there are no 100% allergen-free cats. However, hypoallergenic cats produce fewer allergens and are therefore better tolerated by cat allergy sufferers. This is thought to be a result of a genetic rarity in these cats.

It’s important to note that hypoallergenic cats do not imply hairless cats. While it is true that some hairless cats are better tolerated by allergy sufferers, the allergens are found in a cat’s saliva and skin, not the hair. Here is a list of cats that have been proven to cause less allergic reactions in humans:

Hypoallergenic Cat #1: Siberian

The Siberian cat originates from Russia and has a long thick coat. They are affectionate, loyal and very playful. They are famous for their jumping prowess.

Siberian Cat laying down in the yard

Despite the cat’s long shaggy coat, they have managed to surprise many by ranking as one of the best cats for people with allergies. This is because they produce less of the protein Fel d 1.

Hypoallergenic Cat #2: Balinese

The Balinese is another longhaired feline that is hypoallergenic. As a mutation of the Siamese cat breed, this cat is commonly referred to as the purebred long-haired Siamese.

Image showing the Balinese cat

These cats tend to sport blue eyes, are playful, explorative, and impressively intelligent. Like the Siberian, they also produce less of the protein allergen, thus making them a favorite hypoallergenic breed.

Hypoallergenic Cat #3: Bengal

Meet the majestic Bengal, a domesticated cat with an exotic jungle-like appeal. The Bengal results from selective breeding of the Asian Leopard Cat hybrids. It is no wonder then that these cats sport a jungle look, more like a leopard or an ocelot than a domesticated cat.

Image showing a beautiful Bengal cat

Bengals have bright orange or light brown colored coats and white bellies. Their coats are short and donned with very fine fur. As a result, they are said to spend less time grooming their coats. This means that less saliva is deposited on their coats, making them the perfect choice for people who are allergic to cats.

Hypoallergenic Cat #4: Burmese

The Burmese, an extremely playful, affectionate, and vocal feline, originates from Thailand. These cats sport a short coat with dense fur.

Burmese cat laying down

Despite the long hair, these cats are known to shed a lot less than other felines. This could be the reason why these cats are able to produce fewer allergens.

Hypoallergenic Cat #5: Colorpoint Shorthair

The Colorpoint Shorthair is the first cousin to the Siamese cat. This cat was originally created as a cross breed between the Siamese and the American Shorthair. This was done to diversify the Siamese colors, and in the end, the breeders successfully achieved 16 point colors.

Colorpoint Shorthair cat looking at the camera

The Colorpoint Shorthair is an extroverted, affectionate, and playful cat that has almond-shaped eyes and slim legs. They have soft fur and are known to cause less of an intense allergic reaction among cat allergy sufferers.

Hypoallergenic Cat #6: Cornish Rex

The Cornish Rex is a breed that started in the Great Britain. These cats lack an outer coat and a middle layer and only have a very fine undercoat. These cats are prone to experiencing hair loss, and some parts of their body may appear to be bald. Their coat also appears curly.

Cornish Rex cat beeing ready for a walk

The Cornish Rex is adventurous, playful, and intelligent. They can even pull off a few acrobatic moves. Due to their fine downy coat, they are prone to less shedding, and this may be the reason why these cats are better tolerated by cat allergy sufferers.

Hypoallergenic Cat #7: Devon Rex

The Devon Rex started out in England in the late 1950s. They are a type of intelligent, slender, short-haired feline sporting long ears and a wavy coat.

devon-rex-kitty laying on the floor

The Devon Rex sheds a lot less than other felines and therefore leaves around fewer allergens.

Hypoallergenic Cat #8: Javanese

The Javanese have their roots in North America and are approved by the Cat Fanciers’ Association as a show cat.

Javanese adult and kitten relaxing in a bed

They have a single fine top coat that has less fur and appears more silky than furry. They, therefore, shed less and consequently produce fewer allergens.

Hypoallergenic Cat #9: Ocicat

The Ocicat is a spotted cat that looks like a wildcat. Their name is, in fact, derived from the Ocelot, a wildcat. Ocicats are very friendly and make great family pets.

Close-up image of an Ocicat cat laying down

They get along well with other family pets and are easy to train. They are commonly referred to as “dogs in cats’ bodies” because they exhibit a temperament similar to that of dogs.

Hypoallergenic Cat #10: Oriental Shorthair

The Oriental Shorthair exhibits similar looks to the Siamese. They commonly have green, almond-shaped eyes, large ears, a slender muscular body, and a triangular shaped head.

Oriental Shorthair cat closeup face

They are playful, social, and intelligent. They also love to display their athletic prowess and enjoy perching in high places. Oriental Shorthairs have a short fine coat that tends to shed less. They, however, require frequent grooming to make the most of their hypoallergenic nature.

Hypoallergenic Cat #11: Russian Blue

Russian Blues are also referred to as the Archangel Blues and are famous for their striking beauty. They are loyal and playful. They have short, dense coats and bright green or blue eyes.

Russian blue cat laying on the floor in house

Russian Blues produce less of the protein Fel d 1, which is why people with cat allergies better tolerate them.

Hypoallergenic Cat #12: Siamese

The Siamese, a famous foundation of many crossbreeds, also makes it to the coveted list of hypoallergenic cats.

Image of two Siamese cats playing together

Siamese cats will strike you with their beauty: blue almond-shaped eyes, slender muscular bodies, and large ears. They are vocal, intelligent, social and playful.

Hypoallergenic Cat #13: Sphynx

The Sphynx is the most famous hairless feline and has a fine downy coat which feels like chamois. Their skin mimics the pattern that the feline would have had if they had fur.

The Sphynx is very affectionate, intelligent and explorative. Being hairless, they require frequent grooming to get rid of excess oil on their skin. Coupled with the fact that they have no fur to trap allergens in, regular grooming makes them more hypoallergenic.

So there you have it, a detailed list of 13 hypoallergenic feline breeds to choose from. One thing you should note is that these felines tend to be pricier than your ordinary cats.

Close-up image of a Sphynx cat

Since hypoallergenic breeds cost a hefty amount, you may not want to gamble with your hard earned money and end up buying a cat that will still trigger your allergies. So how exactly should you go about this?

It is wise to adopt or buy a hypoallergenic cat from a reputable breeder. Such a breeder will allow you to carry the kitty home for a time period to test the waters. If your allergies persist, you can return the cat and try a different breed.

Tips to Minimize Allergens in your Feline

If for financial or some other reasons you are unable to adopt a hypoallergenic cat breed, don’t despair just yet. There are tips you can employ to minimize contact with the allergy-triggering protein in your kitty. These tips also apply if you do manage to adopt a hypoallergenic cat. Caring for them the right way will decrease their production of the feared Fel d 1 protein even more.

Tip #1: Groom Kitty Regularly

Increasing the frequency of baths for your feline will go a long way in reducing the allergen buildup on his skin. Aim to bathe your cat at least once each month using a vet-approved shampoo.

Asian woman using a comb brush the Persian cat

Brushing regularly will also help reduce dander and minimize the allergy.

Tip #2: Clean Up!

As the allergen will be deposited anywhere your kitty frequents, ensure your carpets, floors, and furniture get a regular, thorough cleaning. Your home should remain as fur-free as possible.

Tip #3: Invest in an Air Purifier

An air purifier will help eliminate the allergens and other pollutants from your indoor space.

Image showing an air purifier in house and a girl

It can be a great way of co-existing with your cherished kitty the way you thought you never could before because of your allergy.

Tip #4: Ban Kitty from Your Bedroom

You do not want to invite the allergens into your bedroom. Try as much as possible to keep your cat away from your bedroom as this will only make your allergic reaction more severe.

Tip #5: Neuter Your Cat

As we have mentioned briefly above, research has shown that the cat allergen is related to high testosterone levels. Neutered males have less of the protein Fel d 1 than intact males.

cat-at-vet-office for a regural control

Neutering your male kitty might just be the trick to an allergy-free life.

Tip #6: Replace Curtains and Carpets

Time for a home makeover; consider replacing your carpets with hardwood flooring and curtains with non-fabric covering. This will help to prevent an accumulation of the allergen in your home.

Tip #7: Wash Hands after Handling Kitty

Always ensure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling your cat. Whenever you snuggle with him, ensure you take a shower before retiring to bed.

A woman washing her hands

This will ensure you do not transfer the allergens to your bedroom.

Tip #8: Regularly Wash your Cat’s Toys and Bedding

Do this once a week to minimize the allergen in your home. Cleanliness is the key to a peaceful and allergy-free life with your beloved feline friends.

Wrap Up

Many cat lovers have had their hopes of owning cats crushed upon realizing that they suffer from cat allergies. Some have spent a handsome amount purchasing their favorite felines only to suffer great disappointment. The good news is that some cats are better tolerated by people with cat allergies.

Hypoallergenic felines are a great relief for people suffering from cat allergies. We have explored a list of 13 such breeds for you to choose from. Since there are no 100% allergen-free felines, knowing which hypoallergenic cat to choose may still be a daunting task. It may feel like a gamble at times.

Ocicat cat looking at something

Spending time with your preferred hypoallergenic cat before purchasing them is a sure way of avoiding disappointment. But even for those not able to acquire a hypoallergenic breed, all is not lost. We have discussed ways through which the cat allergens can be minimized in a home.

Such ways include giving the cats regular baths, cleaning the house thoroughly, washing kitty’s toys and bedding regularly, using an air purifier, neutering, and keeping kitty away from your bedroom.

We believe that with these tips you would be able to lead a relatively rash-free life with your beloved cats until such a day when you finally manage to build up enough resistance that the dander no longer bothers you.

Ragdoll-Cat laying down

Remember, don’t give up on living with a cat just because you’re allergic. If you avoid them like the plague, you’ll never build up resistance. Rather, embrace them (although it’s best if you could consult your doctor first just in case).

Do you suffer from cat allergies? Are you a proud owner of any of the aforementioned hypoallergenic breeds? Which do you think is the best cat for allergies? We would love to know which breed worked for you. Please let us know in the comments section.

About the author
Martha Harvey
Martha Harvey

Martha Harvey is a skilled veterinarian and a member of American Veterinary Medical Association from Greeley, Colorado. She has 20 years experience of working in Animal Hospital. Martha loves all of her patients, but her favorite one is the Russian Blue cat Stitch, who lives with her.

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